Advanced x-ray sources for next-generation material science experiments.

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


This project will develop advanced, table-top x-ray sources driven by ultra-short laser pulses, and employ them in next-generation material science experiments. These will explore the properties of matter under extremes of temperature and pressure relevant for example to conditions within inertial fusion capsules during the early stages of compression where materials strength and equation of state may be strongly modified.
Specifically, laser-driven, betatron x-ray generation schemes will be investigated, whereby an ultra-short (<1ps), high-power (multi-TW) laser pulse is focussed into an atomic or clustered gas target. Such x-ray sources have the potential to rival free-electron lasers in performance (yielding a high-brightness, coherent, pulsed beam with ultra-short pulse durations and high repetition rate), but on a table-top scale.
The betatron x-ray source will be used in one or more applications (e.g. transient x-ray diffraction from shocked crystalline solids or probing of materials damaged by laser driven ion beams), in which the unique properties of the x-ray source may be exploited for scientific gain.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509206/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2020
1738157 Studentship EP/N509206/1 01/10/2015 01/12/2019 Samuel Jacob EARDLEY
Description An experiment conducted on the Astra laser at the Rutherford-Appleton Labs utilised a genetic algorithm to improve the x-ray yield from a laser interacting with a clustered gas medium. It was found that the highest yield occurred when the intensity of the laser pulse increased slowly over a period of 150 femtoseconds and quickly decreased over a period of 50 femtoseconds.
Exploitation Route The findings have shown that it is possible to increase x-ray yield from clustered gas targets not just by increasing laser energy but by tailoring the laser intensity in time. Others can use this to their advantage as the highest power lasers are not available to everyone, however by controlling the shape of the laser pulse scientists can generate an increased yield x-ray source for x-ray imaging.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Healthcare,Other